|Piter De Vries|
Brad Dourif in David Lynch's Dune (1984)
|Date of death||10,191 A.G.|
|Portrayed by|| Brad Dourif (1984 film)|
Jan Unger (2000 series)
Jan Unger in the Dune miniseries (2000)
Piter De Vries is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is featured in 1965's Dune, the original novel in the science fiction series, as well as the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy (1999–2001) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
In the service of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, De Vries is a Mentat — a human specially trained to perform mental functions rivaling computers (which are forbidden universe-wide). De Vries is particularly useful to the Baron because he has been "twisted", or made into an amoral sadist by his Tleilaxu creators. This makes him an ideal candidate to be the Baron's torturer.
De Vries' loyalty to his master is unusual in that he continues to serve the Baron with great enthusiasm even though his Mentat abilities and great intelligence confirm his suspicions that his master plans to eventually kill him. As he says in Dune:
But you see, Baron, I know as a Mentat when you will send the executioner. You will hold back just so long as I am useful. To move sooner would be wasteful and I'm yet of much use.
In Dune, it is established that De Vries had pioneered a type of toxin called "residual poison" which remains in the body for years and requires an antidote to be administered regularly. One such fatal poison is secretly administered by the Harkonnens to Thufir Hawat, the Mentat of House Atreides, in order to keep Hawat's allegiance as the only provider of the antidote (in the 1984 movie version, it is shown that Hawat has to milk a gruesome captive cat for the antidote every day).
De Vries is generally regarded as architect of the plan to destroy House Atreides, long-time enemy of the Harkonnens, while restoring the Baron's stewardship over the planet Arrakis. It was Piter's techniques and torture that broke Wellington Yueh, the Atreides Suk doctor's Imperial Conditioning against taking a life. Yueh eventually betrays House Atreides. Yueh gives the captured Leto a false tooth containing a poisonous gas. When the tooth is crushed, intended victim Baron Harkonnen escapes, but Leto and De Vries die.
Prelude to Dune
In Dune: House Corrino (published in 2001 and the third novel in the Prelude to Dune prequel series by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson), Piter De Vries discovers the Harkonnen heritage of Lady Jessica and her newborn son Paul, and attempts to kidnap and ransom the infant. The plot is thwarted and the secret preserved - the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam kills the Mentat and arranges for his corpse to be shipped home to Giedi Prime. An enraged Baron is left with no choice but to order a duplicate from the Bene Tleilax: the Mentat De Vries featured in Herbert's original novel Dune.